In the long night, when every creature should
naturally take some rest, or else his life cannot long
hold out, then it falls most into my woeful thoughts
how I have dropped so far behind that except death
nothing can comfort me, so do I despair of all
happiness. This thought remains with me until
morning, and forth from morning until eve. I need
borrow no grief; I have both leisure and leave to
mourn. There is no creature who will take my woe or
forbid me to weep enough and wail my fill; the sore
spark of pain destroys me.
This love has so placed me that he will never fulfill
my desire; for neither pity, mercy, nor grace can I
find. Yet even for fear of death can I not root out love
from my sorrowful heart. The more I love, the more
my lady pains me; through which I see, without
remedy, that I may in no way escape death.
Now in truth I will rehearse her name. She is called
Goodness-set-in-womanhood, Staidness-in-youth,
and Beauty-without-pride, and Pleasure-under-
control-and-fear. Her surname is Fair-ruthless,
Wisdom-knit-to-fortune. Because I love her she slays
me guiltless. Her I love best, and shall as long as I
live, better an hundred thousand times than myself,
better than all the riches and created beings of this world.
Now has not Love bestowed me well, to love where I
shall never have part or lot! Alas, so is Fortune's
wheel turned for me, so am I slain with Love's fiery
arrow! I can only love her best, my sweet foe. Love
has taught me no more of his art than ever to serve,
and cease for no sorrow.
Within my true, care-worn heart there is so much
woe, and so little joy as well, that woe is me that ever
I was born. For all that I desire I lack, and all that
ever I would not have, that, in truth, I ever find ready
to my hand. And of all this I know not to whom to
complain, for she who might bring me out of this
cares not whether I weep or sing, so little pities she
my pain. Alas! In sleeping-time I wake; when I
should dance I tremble with fear.
This heavy life I lead for your sake, though you pay
no heed thereto, my heart's lady, all my life's queen!
For truly I dare say it, as I see it: I seems to methat
your sweet heart of steel is now whetted against me
too keenly. My dear heart, foe best-beloved, why will
you do me all this sorrow? What have I done or said
to grieve you, except that I serve and love you and
nobody else, and as long as I live will ever?
Therefore, sweet, be not displeased. You are so good
and fair, it would be a very great wonder if you did
not have suitors of all kinds, both good and bad; and
the least worthy of all, I am he.
Nevertheless, my own sweet lady, though I be
unskillful and unfit ever to serve your highness, even
as best I knew how, yet this I swear, there is nobody
more glad than I to do your pleasure or to cure
whatever I know to distress you. And had I as much
power as will, then should you feel whether it were
so or not; for in this world is no living being who
would more gladly fulfill your heart's desire. For I
both love and fear you so sorely, and ever must and
have done right long, that none is better loved, and
never shall be. And yet I would only beg you to
believe me well, and be not angry, and let me
continue to serve you. Lo, this is all! For I am not so
bold or mad as to desire that you should love me; for
alas! Well I know that may not be; I have so little
worth, and you so much. For you are one of the most
excellent of the living, and I the most unlikely to
prosper. Yet, for all this, know you right well you
shall not so drive me from your service that I shall
not ever serve you faithfully, with all my five wits,
whatever woe I feel. For I am so set upon you that
though you never pity me, I must love you and ever
be as true as any man living can be.
The more I love you, goodly and noble one, the less I
find you love me. Alas! When will that obduracy
soften? Where now is all your womanly pity, your
noble gentleness, your graciousness? Will you spend
nothing of it on me? And as wholly as I am your,
sweet, and as great will I have to serve you, if thus
you let me die, you have gained but little from it. For
I believe I have given no cause. And this I beseech
you heartily, that if ever you find, so long as you live,
a servant more true to you than I, then leave me and
boldly slay me, and I will forgive you all my death.
And if you find no truer man, why will you allow me
to perish thus, and for no type of guilt except my
good desire? As good then be untrue as true.
But to your will I submit my life and death, and with
a fully obedient heart I pray, do with me as is your
pleasure. Much rather had I please you and die than
to think or say anything to offend you at any time.
Therefore, pity my bitter pains, sweet, and of your
grace grant me some drop; for else neither hope nor
happiness may remain with me, nor linger in my
troubled, careworn heart.